My bike is too big: What can I do?

Hi Lee,

Boy I sure wish I’d seen your video on bike sizing before I got my new bike!! Just recently discovered your great videos and after spending for me a bunch on a new bike, I think I now know why it doesn’t thrill me quite as much as I hoped.

I waited forever and finally got my new Commencal Meta TR 29 Ride in a medium. Reach number is 465. I’m 5’ 9.5” based on your numbers, the Small at 440 would be way better.

Dang!! After almost 20 years of riding my old hardtail, I feel like I totally screwed up. What the heck do I do now? Especially after waiting forever on this bike I feel crushed! Definitely don’t trust manufacturer guidelines!!! At one point they said I was between a medium and LARGE! I couldn’t put my finger on it, but felt like it was not right.

Guess I need to come to one of your ride clinics, maybe that will help me get more out of it? Anyway, thanks for the great videos!

– John J. in Highlands Ranch, CO

Hi John!

I’m sorry man. This is happening to more and more people, which is why we’ve been making those videos. For those who haven’t seen them, here they are:

Next week we’re publishing a video on handlebar width.

What you can do:

– Install the shortest stem you can find. 30-35mm.

– Install bars with extra setback (horizontal distance from the stem clamp to the grips). I use and recommend SQlab 30X 16° bars. They have extra backsweep, which is good for your shoulders and reduces the length of your cockpit.

– Dial in your mobility and skills. This is always a great idea, but a too-long bike puts an even bigger premium on MTB kung fu. I can help you via a class: either private or public. Public classes in Boulder/Denver will start later this spring (they will be posted here). We can rock a private any time the weather is good. That’s ideal from a learning standpoint.

– There also tweaks you can make in your riding style, which I’ll cover if we do a private class together. For example: Since you have less range of motion with your arms, you can’t make very big angles, so the solution (if you have the skills) is to do less rolling and more jumping.

A note for everyone else:

1) Do not trust the bike maker’s size charts!

2) For an easy way to estimate a good frame reach for you, see the first video above.

3) To dial in the bike you have, check out the second video above.

4) Before you spend money on a bike and parts, use the rider/bike calculator at to model the fit of the bike. You can tweak the numbers for the frame, stem, bars and spacers until the imaginary bike fits you perfectly, then you can buy without regret. Enjoy a free month of site access with the code FREETRIAL.

Have fun out there,


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